Actions. Do you remember being told when you were growing up to think before you act? Think before you cross the street, think before you speak, think about the consequences of a poorly thought out action. This good advice creates an automatic “stop and think” reflex in kids. It can be a great survival (both social and physical) strategy, but it can also become a terrible self-limiting behavior; sometimes referred to as analysis paralysis. Every day we have lots of impulses to act. We experience something either in the world or in our mind’s eye and we think “I would like to do this, or “I could do that.” Then the “stop and think” reflex kicks in and suddenly we are thinking about all the reasons we shouldn’t or couldn’t or won’t. Sometimes we substitute a safer action for what we really want to do because it passes the think before you act criterion: it is safe. How much trouble can you get into watching an NCIS re-run? So we watch a re-run, or clean out a drawer, or order something off Amazon instead of doing the thing we actually wanted to do. We feel the satisfaction of having done something but what difference did it make, really?
I grieve for all the un-actioned impulses. How much innovation and joy and beauty and satisfaction go unrealized every day? While some embarrassment, failure and rejection are avoided by unrealized actions, I suspect that the world would be a better place if more actions were realized. What is the ratio of differentiating actions that occur to you versus the actions you actually act on? What would you like your action ratio to be? How do you know whether not acting or taking action was the right decision for you? I challenge all of us to increase our action ratio a bit and take note of how much more good we start putting into the world.